By David Schissler
(February 2015) While at the NASJA Annual Meeting in Quebec, Al Fletcher, New England ski pioneer and founder of Nashoba Valley Ski Area in Westford, MA, was awarded the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award.
I don’t know Al very well but I can tell you he’s a very affable guy with a smile for everyone. When asked how he got his start in the ski business he said, “I started Nashoba Valley with no money and less brains.” That’s just who Al is. Nashoba has a vertical drop of about 240 feet yet it has 10 lifts that move nearly 12,000 riders per hour and it has produced an Olympian. What does that tell you? Nashoba Valley is further proof of how a small “feeder mountain” can have a big impact on the sport. When seated with Al at the award banquet, with all sincerity and the deepest respect, I said “Al, you truly made a mountain out of a molehill.” He loved it.
On a related note, I recently spent a day at Nashoba with Pam Fletcher and Wayne Wong. Wayne’s arrival is an annual event I make as often as I can. In fact, it’s always one of the most fun days of the season. Wayne has a loyal following wherever he goes. People often seek him out year after year. For several hours you get to ski along with Pam and Wayne while they critique and coach you. Now how often do most of us get to learn from Olympians and Hall of Famer’s? Not often enough. I generally hang back of the small group because I love to watch Pam and Wayne carve as one chases the other. Their economy of motion, body angles, and fluid rhythm is nothing short of artistry. Once in a while I ski a few feet behind them and attempt to carve where they do. I’m good for about three turns in their line if I’m lucky.